How Health Care Workers Can Find Help for Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19

April 20, 2020

Resiliency in Stressful Events COVID-19 Denver Health

Working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic can take a hefty physical toll on Denver Health's doctors, nurses, providers and support staff, but we know it also causes emotional and mental stress and anxiety on our workers and their families. To help support them at this difficult time and beyond, Denver Health has a program that offers all of our health care workers and their families the mental health support they need – available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The program is called RISE, which stands for Resiliency in Stressful Events. It first started at John's Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and came to Denver Health just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting today, that support will be expanded through Denver Health's new RISE for Kids program to the children of our staff members who may be experiencing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peer Support for Health Care Workers During COVID-19

Denver Health physician Jeremy Long, MD serves as a peer responder in RISE. He told CBS4 News that he hears about all of the things health care workers are concerned about right now, including fears of exposing themselves or their families to the virus and managing concerns from loved ones, as well as personal grief, guilt and overwhelming stress.

Watch this CBS4 News report to see how the Resiliency in Stressful Events (RISE) program is helping staff and their families at Denver Health. (Click here to watch if viewing this page in Internet Explorer)

“It’s harder and harder to cope with some of the things we’re already dealing with, and then we add in the element of fear of becoming infected, fear of taking it home to their family, to their small children, to their parents, you name it," Dr. Long told CBS4. "The element of decontamination, alone, the act of putting on personal protective equipment every day when you arrive at work. I think all of these are just weighing us down more and more and more, and we see this with the demand for RISE.”

The goal of the program – which features a 24/7 phone hotline offering peer support to all employees – is to be present for staff members and to help them make sense of everything that's going on right now, as well as reduce the stigma of reaching out for help.

Counseling for Health Care Workers During COVID-19

RISE offers virtual counseling for all Denver Health employees, as well as in-person counseling and an in-person drop-in center for employees currently working on site at Denver Health's main hospital.

Denver Health RISE strategist and psychotherapist, Maria Gonsalves Schimpf said the drop-in center sees more than 300 people a day, adding that it is a positive thing to see that so many people are seeking help. She notes that many problems can resurface after a crisis is over and RISE will continue to be there for staff who need it in the long term.

Just like RISE, the new RISE for Kids will offer a place to voice concerns and receive education. Participating parents will also be instructed on how to guide their children through these uncertain times.

How Health Care Workers Can Get Help During COVID-19 and Beyond

If you are part of the Denver Health team and want to take advantage of the RISE program, you can find more information on the Denver Health Pulse subsite, or email dhrise@dhha.org.